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Acanthosis Nigricans: When Dark Skin Turns To Be Alarming

The majority of people usually pay no attention to small or simple changes in any part of the body. But, have you recently discovered that some parts of the skin located on the groin, armpit, nape and neck have turned darker? This is certainly something that makes you frustrated because it makes these body parts look less attractive.Acanthosis Nigricans When Dark Skin Turns To Be Alarming


However, in some cases this darkening of the skin is much more than a matter of beauty – it can be a sign of a disease or health issue like hormonal disorder or even diabetes. But, what exactly is this skin condition and why people should pay more attention when they notice such change?

What is Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is the medical term for the condition in which people experience thick and dark discoloration that usually occurs in body creases and folds. The neck, groin, armpits and the area under the breasts is usually where this condition appears and it is marked by black to light brown discoloration.

It is good to point out that acanthosis nigricans can occur in people regardless of their age. This skin condition affects individuals who are dealing with diabetes or obese individuals. When it occurs in children, this means that they have increased chances of witnessing the emergence of type 2 diabetes.

Changes in the skin, itching and slow spreading are some of the main characteristics of acanthosis nigricans. These changes are marked with skin darkening, but they start very slowly and gradually. Sometimes it takes several months and sometimes it takes several years to notice them. Te problematic area may lead to itching or bad smell (this is not a common occurrence).

There are many completely healthy people who are suffering from acanthosis nigricans, but the fact is that obese people have higher risk. So, what are some of the causes of this unusual skin condition? We have created some of the most common causes of acanthosis nigricans.

Causes of Acanthosis Nigricans

1. Hormonal Issues

In many cases, endocrine and/or hormonal imbalance is one of the main reasons for the occurrence of acanthosis nigricans. Some of the hormonal disorders that lead to this skin condition include:

  • Addison’s disease, a condition that comes as a result of lack of certain hormones fom the adrenal gland.
  • Pituitary gland imbalance and disorders that happens in the brain.
  • Underactive thyroid also known as hypothyroidism.
  • Growth hormone therapy.

2. IR – Insulin Resistance

People who have this skin condition are resistant to insulin. This hormone is produced by the pancreas and serves as a sugar processor. In case you are resistant to insulin, the chances to develop type 2 diabetes are very high. This situation occurs when you consume high amounts of bad foods especially sugars and starches.

This practice will boost insulin levels. The majority of people dealing with acanthosis nigricans experience high insulin levels compared to individuals who have the same weight and don’t have this skin condition. So, high insulin levels leads to acanthosis nigricans because it triggers insulin receptors located in the skin and results in unusual growth.

3. Using specific kinds of medication

Individuals who are using high doses of niacin, oral contraceptives, prednisone and similar corticosteroids are at higher risk to witness the emergence of this disease.

4. Cancer-Related Diseases

Acanthosis nigricans has impact on women suffering from ovarian cysts and people who are suffering from cancerous tumor growth in any internal organs, and lymphoma.

Risk factors associated with Acanthosis Nigricans

1. Race/Ethnicity

Native American and individuals that originate from Africa are more prone to this skin condition.

2. Overweight/Obesity

In case you are increasing your weight steadily, you actually increase the chances of developing this skin condition.

3. Family history

There are hereditary types of acanthosis nigricans.


There are many people who are wondering what kind of treatment options they have when they are diagnosed with this skin condition. It seems that science has not adopted any standard treatment in cases like this. The most logical thing to do is to start eliminating the causes. For instance, you must treat obesity and diabetes and this practice will eventually lighten the dark patches of skin.
Comprehensive Guide for Removing Dry & Dark Skin on Your Neck, Elbows, Underarms and Knees

In case you want to make your skin affected by this skin condition more attractive, you can use prescription lotions and creams to make the skin lighter. These products that are used externally usually come with retinoids and vitamin A, urea, AHA (alpha hydroxyl acids) and salicylic acid. Laser therapy and abrasion of the skin may also be helpful in certain cases. Consult your doctor and follow their suggestions and opinions.

Prevention is always better than healing. If you want to protect yourself from acanthosis nigricans you must be prepared to introduce some changes in your lifestyle. The most important thing is to take care of your weight –be physically active, follow a healthy diet and rest properly.

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